November 3 in Twilight Zone History: Celebrating the 1961 premiere of 'It's a Good Life'

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Mar 26, 2021, 11:00 AM EDT (Updated)

Today, November 3rd, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the 1961 debut of "It's a Good Life."

Every now and then, TZ would come up with a storyline that was just so plain weird that it defied description. How do you describe a character like Anthony Fremont and explain to network executives and sponsors that he's an adorable six-year-old who also happens to be a monster who kills people by "wishing them into the cornfield"?

Then you go ahead and cast Billy Mumy, who certainly fits the "adorable" part.


Actor Billy Mumy, circa 1961. Hardly a Central Casting idea of a monster - but so effective nonetheless. Mumy would bring his innocence to two more iconic episodes of the Zone - "Long Distance Call" and "In Praise of Pip."

Cuteness aside, Anthony Fremont is a frightening creature, more powerful than the war machines in War of the Worlds or the giant silver robot in The Day the Earth Stood Still or the pod people in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Anthony can will anything into existence with his mind -- he's Aladdin's lamp on two legs. Unfortunately, he also has the mind of a six-year-old. And that's a dangerous thing.

Rod Serling adapted the short story by Jerome Bixby, cranking out an iconic episode that was later given a sequel, "It's Still a Good Life," during the 2002 revival of TZ. In that episode, Mumy's real-life daughter Liliana Mumy portrayed the next generation of Fremont monsters.

Mumy appeared in two other episodes of the original series, "Long Distance Call" and "In Praise of Pip." It also should be pointed out that his supporting cast in "It's a Good Life” includes Cloris Leachman as his mother and John Larch as his father. Let's hoist a glass of peach brandy to this celebrated episode.


 Anthony (Billy Mumy, left) is distracted by hard drinking Dan Hollis, while Pat Riley (Casey Adams, right) hopes he can get back to his piano playing real soon.